Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 20, 2021
Webpage updated: March 20, 2021

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Devonport Corporation were apparently forced into the position of providing the sewage disposal works which was located at Westonmill Creek, to the south of Westonmill Lake.  The Works was hidden from public view by the trees of Northdown Plantation.

The Corporation used to discharge its raw sewage direct into the Hamoaze until they received a notice from the Admiralty that they would no longer be able to do so.  The Council made a bold stand against this demand and eventually agreed to treat all sewage from Ford and the "new" area to the north of the Borough (Saint Budeaux, Honicknowle and Crownhill) before allowing it to pass into the Hamoaze.  For that purpose the Works at North Down were constructed.

About five  miles of sewers were constructed in the Saint Budeaux district and in two low-level parts, at Weston mill and Harbour Avenue, Camel's Head, the sewage had to be raised to a higher level by means of Adam's lifts.  The sewage from the higher level was used to raise the sewage from the lower level by compressed air which rendered it unnecessary to provide a pumping station.

Some 2 miles of sewers had been constructed to take sewage from Milehouse and the Ford valley, which, along with that from Saint Budeaux, Honicknowle and Crownhill, was discharged into two screening chambers at the entrance to the Works.  This was then treated in sceptic tanks and bacterial filters, and then storm filters.  The four sceptic tanks had a capacity of 367,000 gallons and the storm filters covered a superficial area of 1,416 square yards.  It was not intended to use any chemicals in the tanks, which were arched over in concrete and covered with soil to avoid nuisance from smells.

From the sceptic tanks the sewage then passed trough 16 bacterial filters, each equipped with alternating gear, while the sludge was dealt with in special filters with a superficial area of 540 yards.  The effluent from the sludge was passed back to the screening chambers for retreatment.  A tank was provided for storing the effluent during periods of high tide.

The buildings provided at the Works consisted of an engine house, which was to be equipped with either a electrical motor or gas engine, a workmen's room and a store room.  The Works were designed by Mr J Diggle and constructed by Mr W E Blake.  Mr R H Rendle was chairman of Devonport's Sanitary Committee.

Members of the Three Towns branch of the Devon and Exeter Architectural Society made a tour of the Devonport Sewage Disposal Works on Wednesday September 27th 1905.  As the local press put it: 'After the tour of the works, Mr Diggle invited the party to partake of refreshments temptingly laid in one of the sceptic tanks.'  Luckily the Works were not yet completed.  The refreshments were supplied by Messrs G Risdon and Son.